A plan to improve the reliability, safety and overall service quality of Yellowstone National Park’s electrical power distribution, operated by Northwestern Energy, has been approved.
Much of NWE's existing power infrastructure in the park has not been updated since the 1950s and is prone to frequent outages because of the remoteness of the park, inhospitable terrain, climate, and tree cover near transmission lines. Additionally, the park's system lacks modern communication infrastructure that would facilitate diagnosing and correcting the cause of power outages from NWE's central offices in Montana. The lack of reliable communications inside the park can also make it difficult for NWE employees to safely implement repairs when outages occur.
Components of the plan include incorporating automated, remote power monitoring and control system technology, as well as the installation of equipment buildings, back-up power generators and propane fuel tanks. Communication technology upgrades include the construction of new metal lattice towers at each of the seven existing NWE electrical substations located within the park as well as the installation of a new tower outside the park on Forest Service property.
The plan also includes a commitment by park managers to periodically review technologies that may be available for future automation of electrical substations.
Copies of the EA and the FONSI are available on the National Park Service Planning, Environment and Public Comment website at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/NWEPlan.